The Tri Tip Challenge, SLO

There’s an experience in San Luis Obispo called the Tri Tip Challenge which I have been wanting to try ever since I got to Cal Poly as a freshman. I love hiking, and if you do too, this challenge is for you. The Tri Tip challenge is when you hike 3 of the major peaks in San Luis Obispo all in a row in one day, then go to Firestone grill to get a Tri tip sandwich as a reward. This past Saturday Conner and I were able to complete it.



We started on the P, on Cal Poly’s campus.Even if you aren’t going to do the tri tip challenge, if you’re visiting SLO or go to Poly, you should definitely hike this iconic hike. To read my previous post on my other blog “Adventures Fast and SLO” about hiking the P with lots more detailed information, click here.

When we got to campus, we were able to park for free since it was a weekend, and parked behind the red brick dorms where the trail begins.

The “P” trail was just refurbished in September of 2015 and the “P” was better reinforced against erosion so that it is more structurally sound, and the new trail is much less steep, strenuous and potentially dangerous than the old one. But making it up the old trail was a classic freshman experience.

Overall, the P is a short hike. It’s only around half an hour up and down, but has a beautiful view of the Cal Poly campus.


The second hike we did was Cerro San Luis, also known as Madonna. I also have a blog post on Adventures Fast and SLO about hiking Madonna in more detail, and where the trailhead can be found, click here. This hike is lengthier, around 5 miles up and down roundtrip. It took us about two hours to complete. We accidentally went down the wrong side of the mountain which isn’t a surprise if you know us, but was a nice change of scenery compared to the side I’m used to hiking down. My favorite part of the Madonna hike was by far the wildflowers. *Yay Spring!* There were so many types, and I had to photograph a few of them.

Conner’s favorite hike of the three was Madonna. We were lucky, because we hiked it the day before Easter, and if you’ve seen the giant Christmas tree or giant cross lit up at the top of the mountain, you know it’s beautiful. The cross was absolutely massive up close.

My favorite hike of the three was Bishop’s.To read my post about hiking Bishop’s peak with detailed directions and trail information click here. This hike is in my opinion the most strenuous of the three, but I knew it would feel great to summit at the top and finish the challenge to overlook all of SLO.

It took about 45 minutes to get to the top, and about 45 to get back down. Doing the hike in the Spring/Winter months is a real treat too, because everything below is green and wildflowers cover the landscape. Thanks, El Niño..

Shotgunning my water bottle on top of Bishop’s Peak

I’ve done all three of these hikes countless times, but doing them all three in one day was a new challenge for me. It was a lot of fun. The best part was probably rewarding ourselves at Firestone with tri tips at the end… And honestly the hardest part of the challenge wasn’t even the hikes, it was finding parking in downtown SLO on a Saturday near Firestone for the tri tips 😉

I hope you will try the Tri Tip challenge sometime, and if you have already, let me know in the comments section how it went!

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